Cannabis, which is sometimes called marijuana, weed, or pot, refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of cannabis plants. Cannabis plants contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is mind-altering and can give cannabis users a feeling of “being high.”
California voters approved proposition 64 in 2016. This legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older within the state. After legalization, cannabis use among adults increased. Youth cannabis use also increased at an alarming rate. According to research, cannabis can harm people who use or are exposed to it, especially youth.
What is happening with cannabis in Santa Clara County?
- More than a quarter of high school students said they have “ever used” cannabis.
- Over 1 in 10 high school students reported using cannabis products in the last 30 days.
- Cannabis use is highest among students who identify their race as White, Latinx, or Other, and among those in 12th grade.
- The primary way youth used cannabis was smoking (43 percent) or vaping (40 percent).
- 2 out of 5 youth who vaped cannabis used flavored products.
- A large number of youth said they believe cannabis is less harmful than other substances (like tobacco, nicotine vapes, and alcohol) if used every day or some days.
Cannabis harms health
Current research shows cannabis is more harmful than perceived among youth. Cannabis use can harm the health of anyone who uses it or is exposed to it. Cannabis use can lead to dependency or addiction, or cannabis use disorder, particularly if used during youth or if used often. Cannabis use is very concerning for pregnant women and youth because it can hurt brain development. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, effects of cannabis use include:
- Difficulty thinking and problem-solving
- Problems with memory and learning
- Reduced coordination
- Difficulty maintaining attention
- Problems with school and social life
Policy can prevent cannabis use
Policy plays a key role in preventing cannabis use among adults and youth. The Public Health Department, in collaboration with the Behavioral Health Services Department, will support the County of Santa Clara’s Substance Use Prevention Services by working with youth, schools and parent groups, city officials, community leaders, and other stakeholders to support the following strategies:
- Implementing media campaigns to raise awareness of how cannabis can harm health
- Providing model policies to regulate hemp-derived THC products and to ensure these products are not accessible or marketed to youth
- Adopting and enforcing policies to ensure legal cannabis products are not accessible or marketed to youth
To learn more about the County’s efforts to address cannabis use, please email [email protected].